3 Types of Boundaries and How They Affect Your Relationships
Whether you're going on a third date or trying to maintain a marriage that's lasted decades, setting healthy boundaries is essential for a successful relationship. A partnership of any length will of course have its ups and downs, but proper boundaries ensure that neither party feels disrespected. By understanding your established limits and how they affect your partner, you can build a strong, satisfying relationship you both deserve.
People with rigid boundaries can be cold and closed off. This can be a reaction to a previous trauma and sometimes a defense mechanism to prevent the person from experiencing further emotional harm. Living by the belief that if you never let anyone in, you can never get hurt. However, to hold rigid boundaries can potentially damage relationships. Your partner might feel rejected and unsure, and they may feel as if they don't know the real you at all. Having these types of limits ends up being counter-productive, because you inevitably experience hurt in the form of lack of affection from your partner. Once safety and trust is established in the relationship, someone with rigid boundaries might want to start becoming more flexible with their level of openness to strengthen closeness and intimacy in the relationship.
An enmeshed relationship is one in which boundaries are unclear and emotions are shared. Your spouse may be the one who had a bad day at work, but as soon as they come home you suddenly find your day turning dark as well. Your relationship becomes the utmost priority in your life, and soon you've given up all of your hobbies and time with friends in favor of constantly being around your partner. People with enmeshed boundaries lose their sense of personal identity and absorb each other's emotions, resulting in a tense atmosphere and frequent arguments that are rarely resolved. Enmeshed boundaries usually signals codependency in the relationship, and practicing setting clear boundaries to protect your personal identity and self worth can be beneficial.
People with clear boundaries are open and accepting of their partners without giving up their own personal identity. You can feel and express empathy for your spouse's bad day, but you don't let it bring you down with them. You state your feelings in a non-confrontational way, letting your partner know your needs without starting a fight. You also give yourself permission to have reasonable limits and to expect these limits of your partner, knowing that being straightforward is what's best for the relationship. The overarching theme of clear boundaries is a mutual respect for both your needs and your partner's needs.
Meeting in the Middle
It can be tempting to want to be around your partner constantly when you're in love, but getting too enmeshed will potentially cause muddled emotions and frequent bickering. Likewise, being cold and closed off can lead to mistrust and lack of intimacy. By setting up clear boundaries both sides of the relationship can build respect and understanding for each other, resulting in a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship.